We left Chulumani early in the morning, looking for Hernán Justo. He's the newly-elected president of the Departmental Association of Coca Producers or ADEPCOCA, an increasingly powerful organization that represents the rights of cocaleros to sell their coca in the legal market. People around town had told us that Justo was a young and charismatic farmer-turned-union leader -- just the man to talk to us about the commercialization of coca and how it's faring so far.
"Forced eradication" is a loaded term in Bolivia, and among cocaleros, it calls to mind the abuses and conflicts of the past few administrations. These days, the preferred word is "rationalization", used equally by government officials, military, police, and even the cocaleros themselves to refer to the limits placed on coca cultivation. Under president Evo Morales' "Coca Si, Cocaina No" plan, there's a rightful place and treatment for all kinds of coca -- whether it's grown in legal zones, in so-called "excess" areas, or in illegal zones.
The bus drops us off at the non-descript "tranca" in Chulumani -- the name given here to the place where all traffic comes to a halt, and where the trucks and buses stop to pick up passengers and unload. It's raining. The town is sleepy as always, but especially so now because it is noon-time and most villagers are either in the fields tending their crops, or they are back at home, having lunch.